The cross country team endured a hot and humid race against Stony Brook and Hofstra, capturing both the men's and women's races on Saturday in its season opener.
The men's squad swept the first seven positions to dispatch both the Seawolves and the Pride, while the Light Blue women took six of the top 10 spots en route to a nine-point victory.
Sophomore Brian Zabilski earned the top spot for the men, clocking a time of 25:53.2 on the eight-kilometer course. Senior Max Norris took second, finishing a mere quarter of a second behind Zabilski with 25:53.4, followed by junior Ryan Thomas (25:53.9), first-year Kenny Vasbinder (25:42.2), junior Tal Braude (25:54.4), and senior Rob Napolitano (25:54.7).
The gap of 1.5 seconds between the top-six finishers made the difference on Saturday and left head coach Dan Ireland determined to keep the close-knit pack together.
Ireland added that while Vasbinder's top-five finish as a rookie was somewhat unexpected, the Lions came into the race with considerable depth among veteran members.
"He was the top freshman on paper coming in, and he showed that," Ireland said.
Sophomore Libby Kokes headlined the day on the women's team, bypassing three Stony Brook runners to take the top spot in the five-kilometer race with a time of 19:34.6.
"It was a better field than the men's race," Ireland said of the women's race, with both Stony Brook and Hofstra boasting competitive squads in the northeast.
Aside from Kokes' victory, the Light Blue took the fifth through ninth positions, with junior Chloe Binczyk finishing fifth in 19:41.8, followed by senior Samantha Siler (19:51.6), first-years Abby McLaughlin (19:56.1) and Fiona Danieu (20:06.6), and junior Erin Melly (20:11.4).
The Lions will compete on their home course Friday in the Iona College Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt Park, with the women's race slated to begin at 9:45 a.m. and the men's race to follow at 10:30 a.m.